Just a few kilometres northeast of the town of Coburg, in the town of Rödental, one can find the Rosenau Castle. While there are bigger castles of the Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha family nearby, this home has become famous for being the place of birth of Prince Albert, the husband of the British Queen Victoria. Albert was born here on 26 August 1819 – for 200 years – as second son of Ernst I, Duke von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha (Saxe-Coburg and Gotha) and his wife Princess Luise von Sachsen-Gotha-Altenburg. He and his brother Ernst grew up here with their father, who had divorced his wife in 1826.
Albert and Victoria travelled here in August 1845, years after their marriage. Victoria sketched the castle several times and even painted a watercolour. She had heard a lot about the place and wrote: “I cannot describe what I feel here – it is a feeling as if I had spent my youth here.” At the Royal Library in Windsor one can still find watercolours of the rooms at Rosenau by several artists, as a memory for the royal couple. Victoria would return here without Albert in August 1863 and August 1865
The Rosenau Castle is rather modest with hardly 20 rooms, but romantic. It was first mentioned in a document in the year 1439. The Von Rosenau family lived at the castle until 1704 and then sold the place to Ferdinand Johann Adam Baron von Pernau. The next owner in 1731 became Friedrich II, Duke von Sachsen-Gotha-Altenburg. Duke Franz Friedrich Anton von Sachsen-Cobunrg und Gotha bought the old seat of the Lords of Rosenau in 1805 for his son as a summer residence.
His son Duke Ernst I had the little castle renovated in Neo-Gothic style between 1808 and 1817, by the architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel. It was a rather relaxed and informal place. It was finished just in time for his wedding, which was among others celebrated with a masked ball at the Marble Hall (Marmorsaal), where his son Albert was christened on 19 September 1819. He also had the park redesigned into an English landscape garden.
In 1920, after the fall of the monarchy in Germany, the castle became part of the Coburger Landesstiftung. Until 1938 the daughters of Duke Alfred, a son of Albert and Victoria, leased the house. Afterwards it was used by the female Reich Labour Service 1941-1945, as American Departments 1945-1946, as a rest home for homeland expellees 1946-1948 and finally for more than 20 years as an old people’s home.
In 1972 The Coburger Landesstiftung sold the place to the Free State of Bavaria. Nowadays it is in the possession of the Bavarian Administration of State Palaces, Gardens, and Lakes, a department of the state government of Bavaria. After an extensive renovation the museum was opened on 4 October 1990. Nowadays the castle is furnished in the style of Albert and Victoria’s time. Visitors can admire its parquet floors and inventory. Outside is the fountain where also Victoria and Albert could have a rest. In the Orangery one until 2008 coulld find the European Museum of Modern Glass Art. That museum is now in a new building nearby. In the mews are the ticket office, the museum shop and a small bistro.